Remasters are a funny beast, they’re coming so thick and fast these days that it occasionally seems to undermine the legacies of the hallowed source material. When every other day another remaster is announced it’s kind of hard to give them the respect they may or may not deserve. Then of course you’ve got remasters of remasters (which Capcom are no stranger to), and that’s where Devil May Cry HD Collection finds itself. The collection comprises the first three games of the series, widely considered gems of the PS2 era, now for the second time they are available with a somewhat fresh lick of HD paint. So is this a devil worth dancing with in the pale moonlight, or is it a used car salesman looking to sell you a flower holder upgrade on a classic Camaro?
There’s no denying that DMC as a series has well and truly earned its place in the video game history books. Its blinding mix of fast-paced combo-based combat, key and door porn, and one of the greatest douchebags to ever grace a disc in the form of anti-hero Dante makes it an endearing classic. However in honesty, the first two games have only barely withstood the relentless test of time. The camera work in these games is one of the worst things to have ever happened to gaming, and the nonsensical, poorly told stories are a sight to behold. But if you curiously plod through the original Devil May Cry, then quickly smash through Devil May Cry 2 (before swiftly banging your head on a rock repeatedly until you forget it exists), you arrive at Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, a stunning culmination of everything this series is capable of. Even though DMC3 is a whopping 13 years old, the nuanced combat, excellent level design and stunningly well crafted boss battles easily stand up to the harsh light of 2018. It’s fairly ironic considering DMC is actually a prequel to the first two games, but to play through these titles is to see the evolution of a studio growing in confidence and technical ability, and an utter joy (except 90% of DMC2).
So the games are good (except DMC2), that’s no secret, but does the HD remaster bring anything to the table that the other HD remaster didn’t? Does it attempt to entice a new generation to experience these games or does it just plonk itself at your feet and demand that you love it? Unfortunately I feel that the HD collection focuses very heavily on simply slapping the games on a disc without any fanfare, and while it may be true to the source content, there are a few simple elements that could have been introduced that could have made Dante’s early 21st adventures really shine.
Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. While the games were heralded as technical masterpieces on PS2, no amount of HD makeover is going to make you forget these games were made well over a decade ago; textures are extremely rough, character models look awkward and the writing that explains the game’s all important story is blurry and indistinct. If you can tell the difference between the 720p resolution of the 2012 remaster, and the 1080p resolution of the current remaster then I’ll give you the keys to the aforementioned Camaro and throw in the flower holder upgrade for free. As with the original remasters it still runs at a steady 60fps, which suits the fast-paced action well. The game actually looks fairly credible in full motion and for the most part the lighting still looks fantastic, and when the scythes and orbs start flying you’ll likely forgive some of the murkiness. This is a remaster and not a remake after all, so one can’t expect miracles in the visual department, but it’s a word of warning for those thinking that slapping the word HD on something automatically means it will look good.
My main gripe with the visuals is in the cutscenes, which flick annoyingly between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios and generally do a great job of looking terrible. They detract from the main action in profound ways as you are forced to relive the horrors of 480i resolution. While it would have meant a considerable increase in the amount of work required, actually remaking these FMVs may have done the titles a lot more justice. When you witness the legendary fight choreography of DMC3’s cutscenes, you can’t help but wonder just how epic they may have been if they’d been rebuilt using modern 3D CGI technology.
The Mundus among us
Count me in
So the games are good (except DMC2), that’s no secret, but does the HD remaster bring anything to the table that the other HD remaster didn’t? Does it attempt to entice a new generation to experience these games or does it just plonk itself at your feet and demand that you love it?
Other quality of life adjustments would have been nice too. For instance being able to select hard difficulty from the outset (rather than having to slog through Normal if you don’t want to), or having the ability to level select prior to finishing the game (this goes for DMC1 and 2, DMC3 introduced this to great effect) would have made it more enjoyable without compromising the experience.
The underwater levels of DMC2 are torture
Trish. Trish. Triiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiish!
It kind of makes me uncomfortable, but the argument as to the latest HD Collection’s merit largely comes down to price. The fact you can pick up three games that helped define the modern hack and slash for less than $50 AUD is nothing to sneeze at, and might be enough to make you overlook the lazier aspects of this re-remaster. It’s functional but it’s bare bones, and I can’t help but feel that this series deserves a little better.
Reviewed on PS4 | Review code supplied by publisher